Affirmative action and the quality-fit trade-off


Journal Article (Review)

This paper reviews the literature on affirmative action in undergraduate education and law schools, focusing especially on the trade-off between institutional quality and the fit between a school and a student. We discuss the conditions under which affirmative action for underrepresented minorities (URM) could help or harm their educational outcomes. We provide descriptive evidence on the extent of affirmative action in law schools, as well as a critical review of the contentious literature on how affirmative action affects URM law-school student performance. Our review then discusses affirmative action in undergraduate admissions, focusing on the effects such admissions preferences have on college quality, graduation rates, college major, and earnings. We conclude by examining the evidence on "percent plans" as a replacement for affirmative action. (JEL I23, I26, I28, J15, J31, J44, K10).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Arcidiacono, P; Lovenheim, M

Published Date

  • March 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 54 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 3 - 51

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0515

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1257/jel.54.1.3

Citation Source

  • Scopus